Nation & World Briefs

Abdullah Takes Saudi Throne

The successor to the late Saudi King Fahd has previously proposed a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Crown Prince Abdullah, who was pronounced monarch within hours of Fahd’s death of a long illness Monday, authored a Middle East peace plan endorsed by the Arab League in 2002 and again this year. Under the proposal, Israel would relinquish all territories captured in the 1967 Six-Day War in return for full normalization with the Arab world. Israel was cool on Abdullah’s overtures, which first were made at the height of the intifada.

Deal Close on Corridor

Israel reportedly agreed that Egypt will post 750 troops along its border with the Gaza Strip. The new deployment, which effectively would overturn a clause in the 1979 Camp David peace accord demilitarizing the Sinai, will begin Sept. 1 along the Philadelphia Corridor, Israel Radio said Monday. Under the reported deal, Egypt will be responsible for preventing arms smuggling from Sinai to Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza.

Israel: Not So Calm After All

Israel’s internal security service said the cease-fire declared by Palestinian terrorists has been flouted regularly. According to a Shin Bet report published Monday, 33 Israelis have died in Palestinian attacks in the first half of the year, most after the accord was declared Jan. 22. Another 286 Israelis were wounded in the period. The Shin Bet said it had foiled several Palestinian plots to carry out suicide bombings and kidnap Israeli soldiers. Islamic Jihad, which was not part of the agreement, has carried out most attacks in recent months, prompting Israel to resume its policy of “targeted killings” of the group’s leaders.

Sand Beats Rubber

The Israeli army is replacing its rubber bullets with sand bullets for controlling riots. The sand bullets are considered less dangerous than rubber bullets, because the sand bullets don’t penetrate the skin. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem praised the move, but questioned why it has taken the army so long to make the change, Ha’aretz reported.

Welcome to Nitzan

Israel unveiled a mobile-home park for housing settlers evacuated from the Gaza Strip. Only 130 of 350 trailers planned for the Nitzan park have been fully installed, but it was opened Sunday for orientation tours by Gaza settlers slated for evacuation next month. Officials said the community, which is intended to provide temporary housing while evacuees decide on their final destinations, would soon be filled.

“Three-hundred or more families have registered for this project, so it more or less meets our needs,” Interior Minister Ofir Pines-Paz told Israel Radio.

French Tourism to Israel up

French tourism to Israel is at an all-time high. Israeli officials announced Monday that 134,200 people entered the country from French airports between January and June 2005, an increase of 28 percent over the same time last year. Seventy percent of French tourists head for Tel Aviv, officials said, with Netanya and Eilat in second and third place.

But the French Jewish community has not felt fairly treated by the Israeli tourism industry. In June, the French Jewish newsweekly Actualite Juive claimed French tourists were treated like “milk cows,” to be drained of all their money.

“They don’t speak French to us until it’s time to pay the bills,” the editor of Actualite Juive, Serge Benattar, told JTA. The Israeli minister of tourism, Avraham Herschson, responded by ordering a boycott of the newsweekly.

However, Herschson said last week that “We are aware of the problem and we are studying several solutions.”

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency